Marine biologist Paul Sikkel of Arkansas State University discovered a new parasitic crustacean and named it after the late Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley. Gnathia Marleyi, a small crustacean that infests and eats the blood of certain fish in the coral reefs of the shallow eastern Caribbean, is a new species in the gnathiid family of crustaceans, says the National Science Foundation (NSF). It is also the first new species to be discovered in the Caribbean in more than twenty years. The research was funded in part by the National Science Foundation.
Sikkel said that he named this species Gnathia Marleyi because of his regard for Marley’s music and the fact that this species is as uniquely Caribbean as Bob Marley.
Young Gnathia Marleyi hide among coral rubble, sea sponges or algae, launching surprise attacks on fish, which they then infest, eating enough to fuel their growth to adulthood. Adults don’t eat at all, Sikkel said, but manage to survive for two to three weeks on their last feedings as juveniles.
Sikkel said that the coral reefs found in the Caribbean are succeptable to diseases and his research team is studying the relationship between the health of coral reef communities and gnathiid populations. They have already discovered that Gnathiids, such as the Gnathia Marleyi, are the most common external parasites found on coral reefs. They show a unique similarity to ticks and mosquitoes found on earth.
A description of the entire life stages of Gnathia marleyi can be found in the current edition of the journal Zootaxia.